Since you are all in agreement with Paul and no doubt understand him better than I maybe you can explain this second part to me: The Mystery of the Gospel
…12in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.
Since Jesus is the light of the world he dispelled all mysteries but Paul somehow managed to find one in "the Gospel" or his gospel as he refers to it in Romans 2:16, 16:25 and other places. He explains this mystery subtly in verse 13. As I understand the mystery it is this - That Paul goes through sufferings and trials and tribulations ("on your behalf")for the very same people Jesus died on the cross for and through these personal tribulations these people are glorified in Paul. If anything our suffering for God's Kingdom brings Glory to God not each other. I am waiting......
In Ephesians 3, Paul mentions the "mystery of the gospel" in verses 3 and 4, and then defines that mystery in verse 6:
2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. [NIV]
Having defined the term, Paul goes on to explain his role is declaring the mystery to the world. He explains that the grace of God was given him to take on the task [verse 7]; that he was unworthy of this grace [verse 8]; but that he must reveal it to "all men" [verse 9] and even "principalities and powers" [verse 10]; as was God's eternal plan [verse 11].
The next two verses seem to refer to Paul's current status, which surely must have seemed to his Ephesian audience as a hindrance to his accomplishing the ministry he just described. He affirms that "In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence " [verse 12], and that speaks to me of how Paul expected that grace that empowered him to share the message to still be at work. Finally, in verse 13, Paul encourages the church to have confidence ("not be discouraged") despite his bonds. So, the "mystery of the gospel" isn't explained by verse 13. We must read the scriptures in context, rather than spot-texting.
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